Your site is successful only if your users are successful. That’s the basic premise of usability. User experience = customer service. Answers the customer’s questions, anticipate their questions, make things easy to find, and meet their needs. And that’s all you really need to know.
If your product is easy to use, customers will use it more often and will be more likely to tell their friends about it. Consider how many people use search engines to find what they are looking for…the consumer is presented with literally thousands of companies to choose from. All things being equal, if your Web site is easier to understand and allows your customer to be more productive than your competitor’s site does, you win. By designing a usable Web site, you are helping your clients succeed at their task while simultaneously increasing your own revenues and positive brand reputation. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.
- Become your customer. Figure out what you have that they want and then put yourself in their shoes. What words will they use while using a search engine to find what you have to offer? What are the exact words? That’s what you need to figure out. Get inside the head of your audience and do exactly what they would do. And then create compelling ad copy (that speaks directly to these people) so that they click on your ad. Simple, right?
- Check out the competition. Do a search on one of your keywords and look at who is competing for those keywords. Are there 10 competitors? Or 100? This will give you an approximate indication of how hard you have to work and how much you will have to pay. Take a look at their ad copy and check out their landing pages (do they even have landing pages?). What are they doing right? Which ones clearly don’t get it and are just throwing money away? Is someone obviously executing a branding campaign and doesn’t care what they pay? Who is on top this week? What about next week? Study the way ad positions move around and you’ll figure out how relevant the search engines think the ad is, whether the competitor is actively editing their ad copy to make it more relevant, or if the dumbass is just throwing more money at a bad campaign. Learn from their mistakes, and profit from what they have already spent time learning. No need to reinvent the wheel.
- Create lots of AdGroups. Don’t make the mistake of creating one single ad that attempts to cover all 400+ of your keywords. Each cluster of closely related keywords should have it’s own ad with it’s own unique ad copy. Generally, the closer your ad copy matches your keywords, the higher your click-through rate will be and the better your quality score will be. You want targeted customers, right? Well then, target each ad group to a particular customer.
- Put your keywords in the title of your ad. Google will bold
the keywords in an ad and that will draw more attention to them. It makes the ad look more relevant to the user and they will be more likely to click on it (since those are the keywords they just
typed and that is exactly what they are looking for!). The closer the ad looks to the exact phrase the user just typed in the better (which explains why you need to have many ad groups, right?).
- Develop a negative keyword list. I’ve seen click-through (and sometimes conversion rates) double when the appropriate negative keyword list was added. For example, if you are selling content management software and you are bidding on the keyword, ‘content management software’, you want to add the word “-free” as a negative keyword for obvious reasons. People looking for free stuff generally aren’t very good leads (unless you are a web 2.0 company >>grin<< ).
- Make your display URL look relevant. Using the example above, I would make the display URL look like this: www.mysite.com/CRM_software/. This could give a user the impression that your ad might me more relevant than your competitors. As a result, you may enjoy a higher click-through rate and better conversions.
- Talk about the benefits in your ad copy, not just the features How are you going to solve their problem? Tell them! Many products and services solve exactly the same problem and have exactly the same feature set. Why tell them about the features when your competitors are doing exactly the same thing? What makes you different? Tell them how you are going to solve their problem and they will be more likely to identify and click through to learn more (and more likely to become customers).
- Pre-qualify Clicks. You don’t want people clicking on your ad who have absolutely no intention of making a purchase or that will ultimately have no
real interest in your offer. In other words, write your ad copy with the intention of converting these users to actual customers (and not just so he/she clicks the ad). Make that your goal. Every time a user clicks, it costs you money. You need to make sure that those clicks count. For example, if your services start at $1800, mention it in your ad copy. That way, the cheapskates who aren’t willing to spend that kind of money will skip your ad altogether. If you sell an expensive widget, say, “Blue Widgets starting at $79.99”. With any luck, someone who is not willing to spend $79.99 won’t click your ad (you hope).
- Measure. Measure. Measure. Don’t just set it and forget it. Track your impressions and track the keywords that get a high click-through rate (but are not converting into customers). And then figure out why they are not converting. Use the conversion tracking code that the major PPC engines provide to determine what your ROI is. For example: I have a client that I started a PPC campaign for 30 days ago…today he told me that one (1) customer just paid for the whole program (music to my ears!). You simply cannot measure the success of a campaign until you understand your ROI and determine what a customer or lead is actually worth. Get creative with measuring results. How many people may have clicked on an ad but chose to pick up the phone to place an order instead of through your website? Have you considered a unique 1-800 number just for your website to track these types of conversions? Perhaps your
sales are complex (e.g. are expensive or take many people to approve the purchase) and take longer than the normal 30-day PPC cookie that is stored on their computer. Do you have a plan for accounting for those sales? You need to. Now!
- Test, and then test again. With A/B split testing (among other types (Google Optimizer, for example.)), you can test ad copy (and layouts) to figure out which ads are performing the best. Delete the loser ad and try to create even better and even more compelling
ad. Test it again, delete the loser again, then start the process all over. The idea here is to refine your message until you get the highest possible return on your advertising investment. Rinse, repeat, until
you get it right.
- Use unique landing pages for each of your ads. Each ad will have a slightly different message (targeted to slightly different customers, using slightly different keywords), so why drop them to your generic homepage? There are very few instances where taking a prospective customer to the homepage makes any sense. Take the user to exactly where they want to go (as dictated by your ad copy). You already know what they are looking for…give them what they want!
BTW: Split test your landing pages as well (See #10…same idea).
My name is Michael. I am a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, & Social Media Content Producer in Washington D.C.
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